When the National Enquirer posted an audio clip of bounty hunter and reality TV star Duane "Dog" Chapman caught in a racist rant Wednesday, Chapman immediately apologized publicly and reached out to black leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Chapman, 54, whose A&E show, "Dog the Bounty Hunter," was suspended pending an investigation into the incident, was recorded repeatedly using the N-word in a conversation with his son. During the conversation, Chapman urges his son to break up with a black girlfriend who he fears may go public about Chapman's common use of the derogatory term.
Today, Sharpton, never one to shy away from the spotlight, said that he would be willing to meet with the reality star, but would not rearrange his schedule to do so. Currently, Sharpton is on the road promoting a march against a spate of recent high-profile hate crimes across the country at the U.S. Justice Department later this month.
"As a minister I would be inclined to meet with you despite the racist and grotesque things I heard you say," Sharpton wrote in a letter released to the media. "If you wish to meet with me somewhere on the road that is fine, but be assured that I will not sanitize the kind of hate language that leads to the hate action that has left so many people vulnerable in America today."
Sharpton said that his National Action Network will not condemn A&E's decision to suspend the program despite the use of the slur in what Chapman thought was a private conversation because "what was said in private is now public, and they have a right to deal with their public perception."
Sharpton also urged Chapman to join the march in Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, "to protect people, that unlike you don't have publicist (sic), don't have lawyers and don't have any protection."
In Chapman's public apology, the bounty hunter, who in part rose to fame after apprehending serial rapist and Max Factor heir Andrew Luster in Mexico in 2003, said he has the "utmost respect" for black people.
"I did not mean to add yet another slap in the face to an entire race of people who have brought so many gifts to this world," he said.
The Honolulu-based reality TV star also said that the clip, which ran about a minute and a half, was taken out of context and that he was really more concerned with the character of his son's friend than her race. In fact, despite using the N-word six times, Chapman says he does not care that she is black. Instead, he focuses on the possibility that she may go public with Chapman's use of the derogatory term.
The National Enquirer has not revealed who recorded the conversation, but stands by its authenticity and says that it was obtained legally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.